Coming to grips with 'kludgeocracy'

In an interview with Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, Johns Hopkins political scientist Steven Teles argues that issues concerning the complexity of government, rather than its size, will dominate American politics going forward.

The nation has become a "kludgeocracy," he says, with too many government programs and policies—"kludges"—that are substantially more complicated than the problems they are trying so solve dictate.

Right now, when there's no real sense of this being an overarching, and very real, problem, there's no political benefit from doing anything about it. I do think that if the costs of kludgeocracy were more visible, there would be more incentive for entrepreneurial politicians and policy entrepreneurs to propose anti-kludges. If the private compliance costs of various public policies were clearer, the craziness of doing things indirectly might be clearer and politicians might actually worry about being blamed for them.

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